Goldstars’ Newest Recruit

31 Squadron’s engineering team was recently bolstered by the arrival of its newest member, AOC 1 Gp, Air-Vice Marshall Stuart Atha. AVM Atha dropped in on a surprise visit to see first hand the work that the Squadron’s engineers are conducting prior to their deployment on Op HERRICK.

During the visit, AVM Atha traded in his typical work attire for coveralls and got his hands dirty assisting 31 Squadron’s avionics engineers in the functional testing of one of the Tornado’s most crucial components; the AirData System. Sgt Mark Couling, one of the Squadron’s avionics specialists said, “The Tornado GR4 utilises cutting edge electrical and computing systems due to the continuous through-life upgrades each aircraft undergoes. The engineers tasked with maintaining the avionics systems normallycomplete in excess of four months of additional trade training just to achieve the required basic competencies to work on the aircraft. The AOC showed quite a flair for the job so we’ll definitely keep him in mind if he ever fancies a change of career.”

As well as using the visit to witness first-hand the wide-range of skills that the engineers of 31 Squadron possess, the AOC took the time to speak at length with 31 Squadron engineering personnel about all aspects of the Service and their trade. Senior Aircraftsman Cieron Scriven from the Squadron armament team commented, “Having the opportunity to speak honestly and openly to the AOC was really great. Not only did I get to speak about the things I do in my job that I’m proud of and enjoy, I got to talk about the inevitable elements of the job and life in the Service in general that I don’t always enjoy so much.”

AVM Atha said, “It was a great honour to become a 31 Sqn ‘Goldstar’ engineer for the day. The work that these engineers and their colleagues carry out across the whole Tornado Force is the vital element of what we need to do to ensure that Tornado remains the world’s attack and reconnaissance combat aircraft of choice. The visit also provided me with an invaluable opportunity to gain a candid perspective from the people who are   delivering at the front-line. The Goldstars will deploy shortly to Afghanistan, and will close another chapter in the Tornado Force’s distinguished record of operational Service. I wish them well.”

31 Squadron are due to deploy for the final time on Op HERRICK at the end of August. Their return at the end of 2014 will mark the end of five extremely successful years of Tornado GR4 operations in Afghanistan.

RAF Marham as a Unit remains on an extremely high operational tempo with personnel from the Unit deployed globally in support of the UK’s wider defence mission.